It has been three years in between postseason games for the Misericordia men’s basketball program. So it’s hard to blame the team for creating a playoff atmosphere ahead of time.
The Cougars have played two of their tensest games of the season after wrapping up their first PAC tournament berth since the 2004-05 season – coach Trevor Woodruff’s first year at the helm of his alma mater.
Misericordia posted double-digit second-half rallies against fellow tournament teams Immaculata and Gwynedd-Mercy earlier this week and now ride a season-high four-game win streak into the postseason.
“It’s exciting,” Woodruff said. “It’s been a couple of years, so we’re back to where we feel we belong with a chance to win a championship.”
Finishing 17-8 overall and 11-5 in the league, Misericordia earned the third seed and will host No. 6 Neumann at 2 p.m. today at the Anderson Center in a PAC quarterfinal.
The teams split their two regular season matchups, with Misericordia winning at home – 62-51 on Dec. 1 – and the Knights pulling out a 72-67 overtime victory on their home floor on Jan. 19.
A win today would send the Cougars on the road to Immaculata for the rubber match in a Tuesday semifinal. They also split in the regular season, but the Mighty Macs won the tiebreaker over Misericordia and earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
The hurdle for the Cougars is postseason experience. Of the team’s three seniors, only starting guard Ryan Roa and reserve Evan Donegan saw any time in the program’s last playoff season, and it was fewer than 10 minutes between them.
But as one might expect, the Cougars aren’t satisfied with just getting back to the PAC tournament, a height they reached for 10 straight seasons from 1996-2005.
“I think this particular group expected to be here,” Woodruff said. “We felt we’ve made strides the past few years. We thought this was going to be a breakout year for us, and it’s proven to be that.”
On the men’s side, King’s (16-8, 8-3) will look to close out a perfect second-half by beating winless Delaware Valley at 3 p.m. today at Scandlon Gymnasium. The difference between a win and a loss is huge – hosting a tournament semifinal game on Wednesday or making a two-and-a-half hour trip to a hostile Manhattanville gym for the first round.
The Monarchs also have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed, needing a win plus victories by Arcadia and FDU-Florham to pull it off.
Things are even more desperate for Wilkes (12-11, 6-5), which requires a win and some help to qualify for the postseason. The Colonels will be favored in today’s finale at FDU-Florham, but they’ll also need Arcadia to lose on the road against Manhattanville to grab the fourth and final seed. If they do, the Colonels will travel to DeSales for a Wednesday semifinal.
Some interesting scenarios also exist for the Lady Monarchs (13-11, 7-4), who also have a critical game today against Delaware Valley (1 p.m., Scandlon Gymnasium). A win over the Aggies would give King’s the No. 2 seed and a semifinal home game, likely against FDU. A loss would mean the No. 3 seed and a rematch with Delaware Valley in Doylestown.
Wilkes (2-22, 1-10) closes out its season at 1 p.m. today, as the Lady Colonels hit the road against FDU.
The Misericordia women find themselves in the same spot as the men, having earned the No. 3 seed in the PAC tournament and a quarterfinal matchup with No. 6 Neumann.
The game will be at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Anderson Center, as the Cougars look for revenge against the team that ended their season in the same round and the same place a year ago.